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Writing Meme: Days 26 & 27

26. Do you draw your characters? Do others draw them? Pick one of your characters and post your favorite picture of him/her.

I do indeed draw them! And others draw them too. Most of you will have seen them posted to this blog before, but here are links to art galleries:



The Septs and Altitude (formerly Twilight Star) have quite a lot of fan/gift art, and even Defying Gravity has a bit of gift art now too, from swankivy and shadowfreder.

Drawing my characters is an important part of the creative process for me. It helps me get to know the character in a different way; while just their appearance usually isn't that important, it's still a different medium through which I can interact with them, gauging their expressions and the colors they would like and other things that do tell you something about a person. Plus, while I'm drawing them, I'm thinking about their world and their story without actually having to crank out words. It also gets me away from a computer (unless I'm CGing, obviously, but lately I'm almost exclusively doing marker art) so that's a plus.

Right now I've got my markers all over the coffee table again, and have had them there all week, with piles of sketchbooks. I think it's pretty funny that one yellow sketchbook in particular has become my Copic marker character close-up book, with one character per page. It's now become almost strictly about Defying Gravity, but before I decided that's what the book would be for, I did my Obama portrait in there. So, it's all my characters plus the President of the United States. Cue the Sesame Street "One of these things is not like the other..." song now!

Hahaha, I crack me up.

(I know that's supposed to be a bad sign socially, but I'm mainly talking to myself right now, so hey, if no one else is here to entertain me, I guess I have to do it myself. ;)

27. Along similar lines, do appearances play a big role in your stories? Tell us about them, or if not, how you go about designing your characters.

Good question. I'm someone who is, relative to the rest of society, pretty out of tune to appearances. Sometimes I'm oblivious to them; I know people who will immediately notice something looking different, or someone's style changing, while I will totally have missed it. So before I stopped to think about this, I would have assumed I would see that key word "appearances" and go "not particularly important to me!" as a knee-jerk reaction.

(And on a non-story related tangent, when I say I'm oblivious to people's appearances, I do notice when people are unkempt or do shocking things designed to demand my attention. I don't really like having my attention drawn to explicitly to such things, and I don't mean to say appearance doesn't matter at all, since obviously, it's a way of communicating things about yourself and your values. Um, yeah, just thought I should be clear about that. But I really don't care, say, what the First Lady is wearing. I twitch whenever commentators act like it's at all important. GET OFF THESE WOMEN'S BACKS, THEY DIDN'T ASK TO BE THE NATION'S PAPER DOLLS. End digression-almost-turned-really-off-topic-rant.)

But actually, I realized, appearances do play something of a role. Colors, for one, are important to me: I always have colors strongly associated with my characters. Maybe it's because I am a synesthete or something. (Heck, Azilie even has a flavor, tangy citrus, which is strongly linked to her color of orange. She gets orange and lemon sherberts when she goes to the ice cream store. (And I didn't just misspell "sherbert." That's how we say it where I'm from and it's an accepted alternate spelling. Kind of like how I don't misspell "extravert." Whoa, stream of consciousness is cranked even higher than usual today.) And Celeste's colors are magenta and teal with a dark violet (like the color that we can perceive around an ultraviolet light bulb) as a secondarily important color. These are really important to me when I'm writing, though I can not articulate a good reason why. I just will use these colors around them and often point them out.

Hair colors are also important to me. I may not describe much else about a character -- height/weight and build in general, other features -- unless they are important, but I pretty much always go with hair color. As a Caucasian I guess hair color was always the most convenient way for me to make a primary visual distinction between people. (I don't think all Asians look the same, but it sure would have helped me as an ALT if all my students hadn't had black hair in addition to the same school uniform.) Solar has really bright yellow-blonde hair, while Liely is more of a white-blonde tow-head.

Also, it makes me sad when "brown" is used as a default "boring" hair color. I like my hair color. There are so many shades of brown. Azilie and the Septs both have brown hair -- even "medium brown" hair -- but Azilie's is lighter and the Septs' are slightly darker. In Copic markers, the former is Sepia with Chamois highlighting and the other is Burnt Umber with Sepia highlighting. Hah. (Azilie's is basically the same color as mine.)

Celeste's hair color is closer to blonde; "dirty blonde" I guess would be one of the terms, or dark blonde. It's a couple shades lighter than mine. I don't think it's a boring hair color, but I think society does see some hair colors as boring (hence some characters seeing their brown hair as boring; I understand that, but I still don't like it and will still dislike a story that affirms this notion) so I made it so that where Celeste lives, this is a boring color. She's supposed to be very plain physically.

She's also very passive at the beginning of the story. People have commented on this and say it's bad and they don't want to read about passive characters. But that does make it hard to have a character grow out of passivity as part of a story, which Celeste most certainly does! Um, I'm totally digressing now, aren't I? Yes I am.

Back to the topic at hand.

In Defying Gravity, the colors of people's puffs are also relevant, maybe not in any important way but obviously it would be important to me based on what I've just said here. I was thinking the other day about how I haven't given any boys pink puffs, but that this doesn't make sense unless there is some kind of natural predisposition toward pink in girl babies (because they have the puffs when they're born, so it's not like their thought had anything to do with it). So I'm considering giving a boy pink puffs, and trying to figure out whether that kid would get picked on, or be gay (but that goes back to the idea of some kind of natural aversion to pink in straight boy babies) -- or perhaps saying babies are born with white puffs, but that they absorb a particular color in their first year depending on what they're drawn to. In which case, boy babies STILL could like pink, but it would still say something about them.

I wonder how many boy babies really WOULD like pink? Would they like it if their parents dressed them in it and painted their room pink? Which most parents wouldn't do, which would explain why boy babies wouldn't be drawn to pink. Huh!

What do you guys think? You don't have to have read the story to have an opinion about this!

Comments

I like those ideas! Thanks for the thoughts, Jen. :) Colors of puffs hadn't had any connection (that anyone knew of at least) to abilities, but you know, that might be fun to play with and easy to work in...!

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